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The need for more, better and affordable medical care is increasing rapidly due to the aging population. Together with my research colleagues, I use light to diagnose diseases earlier and in a harmless way based on the unique ‘optical fingerprint’ of disease processes. As a result, treatments could be started earlier and more effectively, with better outcomes at lower costs.
The chair focuses on the development and clinical validation of new optical diagnostic methods, with an emphasis on the interpretation of data generated by optical measurement systems based on the modeling of light transport in biological tissues. A good understanding of how light behaves in biological tissues makes it possible to convert measured optical signals into physical parameters that are of diagnostic value.
Central to the research is the back of the eye, the retina. By shining light on the retina in different ways and with different colors and measuring the reflected light, we try to look in detail at blood vessels and nerve cells in a non-invasive way. In this way I aim to detect eye diseases earlier and detect cardiovascular and neurological disorders at an earlier stage.
Measuring the amount of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin present in the retinal vessels (retinal oximetry) is potentially very valuable to detect and monitor retinal diseases. Scanning laser ophthalmoscopes (SLOs) have the potential to perform high speed, high contrast, functional imaging of the human retina for diagnosis and follow-up of retinal diseases.
We have developed an SLO system based on a supercontinuum source that can acquire dual wavelength, high-quality images with any desired combination of wavelengths in the visible spectrum. With this system, we have demonstrated SLO-based dual-wavelength retinal oximetry in vessels down to 50μm in diameter.
Furthermore, we have measured the absolute hemoglobin concentration non-invasively in human retinas using our dual-wavelength SLO with an optimized wavelength combination based on a light-tissue interaction model and an error propagation analysis.